Bio architecture lab technology converts seaweed to renewable fuels and chemicals

January 19, 2012

January 19, 2012, Berkeley, CA - A team of scientists from Bio Architecture Lab (BAL), has developed breakthrough technology that expands the feedstocks for advanced biofuels and renewable chemicals production to include seaweed (macroalgae). The team engineered a microbe to extract the all the major sugars in seaweed and convert them into renewable fuels and chemicals, thus making seaweed a cost-effective, renewable source of biomass.

"About 60 percent of the dry biomass of seaweed are fermentable carbohydrates, and approximately half of those are locked in a single carbohydrate - alginate," said Daniel Trunfio, Chief Executive Officer at Bio Architecture Lab. "Our scientists have engineered an enzyme to degrade and a pathway to metabolize the alginate, allowing us to utilize all the major sugars in seaweed, which therefore makes the biomass an economical feedstock for the production of renewable fuels and chemicals."

BAL's scientific breakthrough is detailed in an article entitled "An Engineered Microbial Platform for Direct Biofuel Production from Brown Macroalgae", which appears on the cover of the January 20 issue of Science magazine.

"It is both an incredible scientific achievement and a distinguished honor to be published in Science, and I am very proud of our team," said Trunfio. "It is yet another strong validation of BAL's breakthrough technology."

Seaweed is an ideal global feedstock for the commercial production of biofuels and renewable chemicals because in addition to its high sugar content it has no lignin, it does not require arable land or freshwater to grow, and it is environmentally friendly. Globally, less than 3 percent of the coastal waters can produce seaweed capable of replacing over 60 billion gallons of fossil fuel. Today, in many parts of the world, seaweed is already grown at commercial scale. BAL currently operates four seaweed farms in Chile and has had great success in growing seaweed at economically viable production yields.

BAL was a co-recipient of an award from the highly selective U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E), a new agency within the U.S. Department of Energy. This award was for the development of a process to convert sugars from seaweed into isobutanol.

"BAL's technology to ferment a seaweed feedstock to renewable fuels and chemicals has suggested an entirely new pathway for biofuels development, one that is no longer constrained to terrestrial sources," says ARPA-E Program Director Dr. Jonathan Burbaum. "When fully developed and deployed, large scale seaweed cultivation combined with BAL's technology promises to produce renewable fuels and chemicals without forcing a tradeoff with conventional food crops such as corn or sugarcane."

In addition to ARPA-E, globally the development of BAL's technology is also supported by the prestigious Concurso Nacional Grant provided by InnovaChile CORFO and Statoil, the Norwegian oil giant and the largest offshore oil and gas producer in the world.
-end-
About Bio Architecture Lab

Founded in 2008, Bio Architecture Lab is a privately held company headquartered in Berkeley, California with an office in Puerto Montt, Chile. BAL is focused on enabling the production of the world's lowest cost, most scalable, and sustainable source of sugars from native, aquafarmed seaweed for biofuels and renewable chemicals production. Company investors include Aurus Bios, Austral Capital, Statoil Venture and X/Seed Capital. The company has also received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy's ARPA-E program and has been awarded funding from InnovaChile CORFO, the Chilean Economic Development Agency in partnership with the Universidad de Los Lagos. The company also has a strategic partnership with Statoil, the Norwegian oil and gas company. More information is available via the web at http://www.ba-lab.com.

Scoville Public Relations

Related Biofuels Articles from Brightsurf:

Making biofuels cheaper by putting plants to work
One strategy to make biofuels more competitive is to make plants do some of the work themselves.

How to make it easier to turn plant waste into biofuels
Researchers have developed a new process that could make it much cheaper to produce biofuels such as ethanol from plant waste and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Barriers and opportunities in renewable biofuels production
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have identified two main challenges for renewable biofuel production from cheap sources.

How biofuels from plant fibers could combat global warming
A study from Colorado State University finds new promise for biofuels produced from switchgrass, a non-edible native grass that grows in many parts of North America.

Calculating the CO2 emissions of biofuels is not enough
A new EU regulation aims to shrink the environmental footprint of biofuels starting in 2021.

Algae cultivation technique could advance biofuels
Washington State University researchers have developed a way to grow algae more efficiently -- in days instead of weeks -- and make the algae more viable for several industries, including biofuels.

Cutting the cost of ethanol, other biofuels and gasoline
Biofuels like the ethanol in US gasoline could get cheaper thanks to experts at Rutgers University-New Brunswick and Michigan State University.

Cellulosic biofuels can benefit the environment if managed correctly
Could cellulosic biofuels -- or liquid energy derived from grasses and wood -- become a green fuel of the future, providing an environmentally sustainable way of meeting energy needs?

Making oil from algae -- towards more efficient biofuels
The mechanism behind oil synthesis within microalgae cells has been revealed by a Japanese research team.

WSU study finds people willing to pay more for new biofuels
When it comes to second generation biofuels, Washington State University research shows that consumers are willing to pay a premium of approximately 11 percent over conventional fuel.

Read More: Biofuels News and Biofuels Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.